Plotted Pants

Women are evil plotters.  Wicked.  Never to be trusted.

These pants are proof.20150226_213909

See what I mean?  My wife must do this on purpose.  I swear she does.  Scouts honor.  And it’s evil.  She knows I do not like my pants folded from seam to seam.  I despise it.  I loathe it.  Pant legs should be folded so the seams lay against each other, so that a nice little crease forms down the middle of the pant leg.

But noooooooooo, after 22 years she still insists on folding my pants the wrong way.  I found these the other night as you see them, displayed on our bed to taunt me.

I do not give her the opportunity to fold my pants very often, for the very reason that you see here.  They will be folded WRONG.  WRONG.  ABSOTOOTLY WRONG!

It is a plot.  She does it on purpose.  She knows that if she folds them wrong, I will do my own laundry in an effort to keep her hands off of my pants.

Of course, it could just be that stubborn wife thing.  After twenty two years, if we are having hot dogs for lunch, she insists on preparing my hot dog for me and presents it to me on a plate.. slathered in ketchup, without mustard.  It’s if she enjoys watching me gag.  Ketchup must never touch a hot dog.  Never.  It’s something she will never accept, so she insists on serving me a defiled hot dog.

I won’t go into the proper way to fold my briefs.  Or how she refuses to leave the TV on when I fall asleep on the couch while watching a baseball game.  Then there is the thing about turning off my music if I leave the room to tinkle.

I will get my revenge.  There are ways.

Steve’s Stupid Idea: Adam and Eve

The prompt for this week is “Is there someone from history that you want to slap?  Who and Why?”.  Read ‘em and weep.

I really didn’t have to think too much about this one.  That pretty much defines most of my blogs.  I also just realized that this prompt really isn’t a creative prompt, probably why the book ‘300 Writing Prompts’ should probably be titled ‘A Lot of Questions’.

I want to slap Adam and Eve, stinking snake chasing, apple eating, fig underwear wearing Adam and Eve.  Given the chance, I would slap Eve then remove another rib from Adam.  Every morning and every time I have to try to figure out how to configure the hair that remains on my head so that it doesn’t look like a comb over, each year that passes where it is more difficult to keep the fat from invading my body, when I look at pictures of a younger me and realize my time is closer to being up, I want to slap them.  It’s their fault!

That whole dust to dust and no more tree of life punishment kind of bites (snake pun intended).

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate;  and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”

That’s right.  It is Eve’s fault and she corrupted Adam, so it’s their fault.  From that day forward, we have all been embarrassed to wear our birthday suit.

“And the man said, ‘The woman who Thou gavest to be with me, SHE gave me from the tree, and I ate.”

From that day forward, men have blamed women for everything.  Wow.  I guess that apple really did make Adam smart..NOT!!!

“To the woman He said ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

I am smacking Adam big time for this one.  The childbirth thing, well, that sucks.  Sorry, Eve.  But Adam, I have been scratching my head over the desire and rule thing for the last 22 years of bondage.

Adam and Eve.  Slapped.

I Have A Bad And Unoriginal Idea

Yes, I know.  I bought a book with the words written backwards.

(Yes, I know. I bought a book with the words written backwards.

Alyssa wanted a book for Christmas — 702 Writing Prompts.  They were out of that specific book at the store, so I bought her the cut rate version.  She found what she wanted after Christmas and left the cheapo book for me to use.  What fun!  It’s a journal of sorts with, you guessed it, WRITING PROMPTS!

What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

You have magic soap.  What does it wash away?

If you could spend a day living the adventures of any cartoon character, which one would you choose?

Most of the prompts are just as mundane.  The real question is how would I spend a productive day?  I already have magic soap.  It works, but then I smell like cheese for a month.  And the cartoon character is one I probably shouldn’t share.

There are some thought provoking questions and suggestions in the book, such as…

Do you do good things when no one is watching?

(I wonder what fib I will come up when I tackle that one.)

What do you believe happens after we die?

(What’s with the ‘we’ stuff?  Is the author of this book named Jim Jones?  I do like the thought of writing this one.  I think about it often.)

My original intention when I started writing today’s blog was to make this a fun activity for everyone, invite all to join in and write on the same prompt.  I used to belong to a weekly writing prompt group when I blogged on Multiply.  That group provided a prompt at the beginning of each week and group members were invited to create their own poem or story or meme or video or toilet sculpture (don’t scoff.. some did or at least came close), then post a link back to their creation in the comments section of the blog.  There were rules for posting and commenting.

So, I will throw out a prompt write here, not from the book this week, but a prompt.  If you care to contribute, do it.  This is an experiment, so this may only happen once.  For sake of a name, let’s call this “Steve’s Stupid Idea”.

Here is the first, maybe only, prompt:

IS THERE SOMEONE FROM HISTORY THAT YOU WANT TO SLAP?  WHO AND WHY?

My contribution will be up shortly.  Yes.  I know that sounded self deprecatingly dirty.

Iceholes

Sproing Sproing Sproing

What the heck?  Am I dreaming of gaily dancing coils springing around my pillow?

Sproing Sproing Sproing

Oops.  That’s my alarm clock.  Time to get up, sleepy head.  It’s 5:45 AM and time to smell the Cream of Wheat.  I reached over, hit snooze on my iPod, today’s best answer to an actual alarm clock, rolled my feet over the side of the bed and sat up in one motion.  There wasn’t much fog in my brain this morning….

Shut up.

As I was saying, there wasn’t much fog in my brain this morning, my common sense told me to go to sleep early last night.  At 7 I was going to roll my mountain bike out of the garage for a glorious winter morning ride with my friends Jon and Jim.  There was a little doubt in my head that the ride would be glorious.  The temperature outside was 18 degrees according to my handy dandy cell phone, a tit nipply but doable, cloudy with a kind wind that would be at our backs for the first part of our ride.  By 7 it was supposed to have crept into the low twenties and by eight heading towards 30.  I was optimistic, hopeful that my legs would feel good and my winter shape (round) would not hinder my riding too much.  Jon is an exceptional rider, already training for an epic ride in France this summer (Paris-Brest-Paris, for those who are familiar with such things).  Even when he is taking it easy on me, which he always does, he can ride away from me.  Our ride would be a total round trip of around 28 miles, a fairly easy ride but a bit more challenging when done on a mountain bike in winter.

Nick followed me down the stairs.  He always follows me down the stairs in the morning, rushes past me as I gingerly negotiate the steps, zooms through the living room and into the kitchen, waiting for me to arrive at the sliding glass door to let him outside to the back yard.  I smile at his eager expression, eyes bright and ears taut with anticipation.  I open the door a crack, peer outside into the semi darkness to check for skunks.  We have had to deal with a skunk sprayed dog several times.

I have a morning routine.  While Nick is doing his thing outside, which this morning involved diving face first into a snow drift, shaking the snow crystals from his nose, then diving in again, I grab the box of Cream of Wheat and spoon three tablespoons into a cereal bowl while the water heats on the stove.  A spoon waits next to the bowl, the box of cereal back to the cupboard, then the coffee loaded into the coffee maker.  I add the cereal from the bowl to the sauce pan, stir it in, reduce the heat, check on Nick.  He is waiting at the door, snout glistening from his fun in the snow.  I doubt he did his thing, but that’s his problem.  he wants back inside.  Nick will ask for a little affection, then resume his post next to one of the beds upstairs to wait for the next human to wake up.

Happy.  I posted a status on Facebook — This stud is going for a studs ride this morning.  I was very proud of myself for braving the cold.

I have time to relax before the layers of spandex need to be pulled on.   Dressing in layers is tedious but obviously necessary.  Wool socks with Goretex socks to go over them, an Under Armor mock turtle neck up top with a fleece lined long sleeve jersey and fleece pullover, knee length bibs with fleece lined tights over them.  Out in the garage I will put on an insulated helmet liner, neoprene face mask and over shoes, topped off with my favorite ski gloves.  I have had those gloves for 25 years.  I love them.  They practically put themselves on at this point in our man/glove relationship.  My mountain bike is fitted with metal studded tires for riding over the ice.

Later on those tires would be necessary.  7 AM came, I rolled down the driveway, a little chilled but just enough chill to know that I was not overdressed.  One does not want to start off warm.  Overheating is worse than riding chilled.  I rode the 2 miles to where I was supposed to meet Jon — and he wasn’t there yet.  Always enthusiastic, Jon is always very early, riding in circles when I arrive.  This morning it was my turn to ride in circles.  I was the enthusiastic one.

Our ride was one of those satisfying rides, filled with the comraderie of friends doing something they love together.  We rode through Wheaton to Glen Ellyn, affluent Chicago suburbs, casually spinning to the crackle of the metal studs on our tires against the pavement.  Our ritual for this time of year is to ride to Lake Ellyn, always cleared for ice skating, ride a few times across the lake, then have coffee together at the downtown Starbucks.  The view from the lake is spectacular, Glen Ellyn High School on the hill above us.  If you have ever seen a movie called ‘Lucas’, then you have seen the school.  The football scenes were shot there.

Great ride.  Just enough.

I think I will stick with this style.

I think I will stick with this style.

I like helmet hair, especially when I wear a helmet liner.  It makes spikes.  Of course, I had to post a selfie.  Had to.  One of my friends said the picture was the perfect Creepy Old Dude (COD) picture.  I would smack her if I could catch the little snot nosed whippersnapper.  She is going to look funny with metal spiked tire marks running up her back.  Another said it was sexy.  I am going to assume that was not sarcastic.  Once again, metal spiked tire marks.  and another commented ‘There goes my appetite’.   I hope they puked.

Should be the first of many rides.. and many helmet selfies.. this year.  I can’t wait!

On the Poor Quality of Christian-Made Movies: A Proposition

Originally posted on The Search:

GodsNotDead

A year ago at this time, discussion of Hollywood’s “religious renaissance” began in earnest. Movies like Son of God, Noah, Heaven is for Real and God’s Not Dead were preparing to release, with more faith-oriented films set to come out later in the year (Mom’s Night Out, The Identical, Left Behind, Exodus). A year later, after mixed box office results and plenty of heated blogosphere chatter, what have we learned about what works and what doesn’t when faith and film collide?

There is a lot that could be said about this topic, and a lot that has already been written. Brandon Ambrosino’s excellent recent Vox piece, “Why are Christian movies so painfully bad?” summarizes many of the key themes. I’ve done a lot of thinking and writing about this topic over the years and hate to belabor familiar points, but the increasing ubiquity and decreasing…

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With Some Fava Beans

First things first.  I know everyone in the world is wondering what I did for Valentines day.  Everyone wants to know what a 53 year old guy did on that one day where guys are forced to the point of constipation to perform.  No.  We’re not talking about in bed because, well, we are talking about a middle aged guy and most of us, with the exception of a chosen few, ceased being sexual titans many moons ago.

I will not keep you in suspense.  I slept in.  I had cream of wheat with a banana chopped up in it and lots, lots, lots of sugar.  Coffee.  Took my son to driving school.  Let him drive the VW on the way home.  Fried a chicken.  Did the taxes.  Gave my wife a card with some chocolate.  Fell asleep on the couch watching ‘Silence of the Lambs’, dark chocolate drool at the corners of my mouth from the heart shaped York peppermint patties that she gave to me.

A census taker once tried to test me.  I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

So romantic.

He said “I can smell your cunt”.

I see.  I myself can not.  You use Evian skin cream, and sometimes you use L’Air du Temps, but not today.

Sorry.  The beauty of those lines was in the delivery.  So superior.  Sickness wrapped up in condescending genius.

One more.  Hannibal was such a philosopher.

Nothing makes us more vulnerable than loneliness except greed.

So.

I had a nice Valentines day.

So did my daughter or so it seems.  Her boy went the multiple gift route, took her out to eat, gave her a really nice day.  Everything I hear tells me the boy is in love, is in tune with my girl, and that pleases me.  She is in love.  As each year passes I find myself wondering if this boy is the one who will be the one I call my son.  Valentines takes on a whole new dimension for me as it becomes more significant for my little girl.  Knowing she was smiling made my day, and my wife’s, very satisfying.

My daughter is learning to love, has experienced a bit of the pain that goes with it, still has a way to go and a lot to learn.  If this boy breaks her heart, this will one hurt a lot more, cause a deeper wound.  The wounds go deeper as the love begins to reach into the soul.  I sense a depth that goes beyond the little girl love she has felt before.

Watch it, boy.  I have learned a few things too.

I’m not sure you get wiser as you get older, Starling, but you do learn to dodge a certain amount of hell.

In the Belly of the Syrupy Beast

Nyquil scares me.  Terrifies me.  And I like it.

Friday found me in one of those three foot thick head cold fogs, the kind where everyone I talked to had to ask “Do you have a cold?”.  That’s when I blow my nose into a Kleenex, wad it into a sticky little white and booger green ball, and flick it at them.  I’m a nasty person when I get a cold, my natural tendency towards playful obnoxicity (that’s now a word) amplified by the irritation of my swollen sinuses.  Normally, I avoid over the counter remedies, instead choosing rest and fluids over drugs.  This time I relented after waking up Saturday morning in worse condition than I had Friday.

I tried Nyquil.  One capful of syrupy sweet Nyquil.

Five minutes later I found myself waking up wondering where the last ten hours had disappeared to.  I flicked away the powdery crust that now lined my nostrils, the drool from a totally knocked out night’s sleep caked at the corners of my mouth.  Nick the Sheltie, peacefully guarding the opposite side of the bed, snorted as a dry snot boulder bounced off of his nose.  A strange haze filtered through my brain, the kind that threatens to stick around the rest of the day.  That haze caused my to bounce off of the door jamb on the way to the bathroom for the necessary dawn tinkle, the wet warmth greeting my bare toes before I realized that the tinkle wasn’t streaming straight.

I know.  TMI.  Just trying to make this blog real for you.

Nick, still snorting from the booger cannon barrage, waited outside the door for me.  He was growing impatient.  His human was moving far too slow this morning.  The ritual on any given day was for me to stumble down the stairs to let him visit the back yard for his dawn tinkle.

The dang Nyquil had really thrown me for a loop.  Nothing knocks me out like Nyquil had done the night before and I was still feeling the effects.  I had barely made it upstairs to bed at ten the night before, the Nyquil taking me to slumber very quickly.  Morning’s light had not roused me like it usually does.  It was nearly 8 AM, almost two hours past my normal awakening.

My head was usable, however, clear and my breathing normal.  I could literally smell the coffee.  Ahhhhhh.

The cold was back by afternoon, not quite as strong but still back.  I had my energy, performed my chores.  Ten PM approached and I heard the siren’s call of the Nyquil from the rocks of our kitchen cabinets.  Drrrrriiiiiinkkkkk meeeeeeee.

OK, it wasn’t quite that dramatic.  Truth be told, the stuff tasted like candy to me.  I wanted some more.

Ten hours later, another crusty haze.

So last night, no Nyquil.  I freaking tossed and turned all night.

Uh oh.  Time for the 12 step program.  I have a monster and its name is Nyquil.

Bye Bye Bunkie

DSC_0452As my children grow, enter new stages of their life, little pieces of them fall away.  Most notable is my fifteen year old boy who suddenly, as if a giant pushed through a clay statue to emerge through crumbling shards, is this hulk who looks me straight in the eye.  Alyssa, my cute little redhead, lives away from me a few hours at her college in Indiana.  My kids are not little children any more.

I sold their bunk bed today.

The memory of the evening I went over to disassemble that bed to take it home still is fresh in my mind.  My friends Scott and Becky had bought the bed only to find out that their son would not sleep in it.  They just wanted to get rid of the bed, offered to me for free if I would come take it apart and take it away, an offer impossible to refuse.  It was new, solid oak, and with sheets and comforter.  Alyssa was six, Nate three, and they couldn’t wait to try it out, jumping on the bed as I assembled it in their room, curly red and blonde hair bouncing as they leapt.  We bought some of those glow in the dark stars to stick on the ceiling above the bed, a comforting glow as we shut out their bedroom light.  A few years later, we separated the bed when Alyssa grew old enough to need the privacy of her own room, well on her way to becoming a little woman.

I think it is a little ironic that Alyssa’s boyfriend was the last to sleep on the bed.

I replaced Nate’s bed last December, moved his portion of the bunk bed to the garage for storage.  Alyssa still needed the bed for when she came home to visit for the Christmas to New Year’s holiday break from college.  I disassembled her bed last night, reassembled the complete bed in the garage last night, took a picture, listed it on Craigslist for a price I knew was fair.  In all honesty, I would just give it to a young couple who needs it, happy that it would bring excited joy to their children.

The email came about an hour ago.  We’re interested in purchasing your bunk bed.  Will you take $125?  Madigan was her name.  She left her phone number, so I called.  I could her the excitement in her voice, her children dancing around her as she spoke to me.  Her husband will come by this afternoon to pick it up.

Bye, bye.

Media Hype Is Abuse

Joan Rivers died.  We know that and after a few small tributes, that is all I needed.  I did not need to listen to our media try to suck every last drop of news out of her death, try to put the surgeon on trial and suggest he is irresponsibly responsible for her death and only cared about her celebrity.  I hope he got a nice selfie with her.

Who cares?  I fear that there are plenty of people outside of the Rivers family acquaintances who care far too much.

Adrian Peterson is one of the most fantastic running backs the NFL has ever seen.  Ray Rice is no slouch.  They are football players.  Their job is dangerous, physically demanding, with tasks that encourage them to inflict violent physical punishment and to endure the same.  They are paid handsomely, something many resent and look to find reasons to criticize them.

Peterson missed an entire football season, a magnificent career likely ended.  Why?  He spanked his four year old son.

Rice is suspended indefinitely from playing in the NFL.  Why?  He punched his fiancé and knocked her out, something that was caught on camera.  The video of that incident is horrific to watch.

What does either of those acts have to do with playing football, a professional sport that requires violent performance from its athletes?  Nothing at all.  Debate that if you want but I doubt that no one can provide a reasonable answer to that question.

Why should something that happens in Peterson and Rice’s personal lives cause them to be punished BY THE NFL?

Had our media not taken advantage of us by amplifying the offense of each man, by bombarding us with coverage and evaluation, the NFL would have done what I think they intended to do — treat personal issues as personal issues, not job related issues. Roger Goodell is more right than he is getting credit for.   No one can debate the approach both men take to their job, the sacrifice they make to be elite athletes, even the stress that they are under to perform.  These men are being punished by the NFL because of media pressure and the power our culture is willfully giving to an irresponsible media that has no business trying them.  Because of the emotions each incident creates, we are being played.  Manipulated.

Give us Barabbas.

Or a deflated football.

I say whoever is without sin, let them cast the first stone.. or Stone Phillips.

We have created a culture that is quick to condemn.  Yes, I said ‘we’.  Condemnation sells these days, consumed by everyone, devoured with a voracious hunger, our own sins screaming to be forgotten.  Our own sins need to be covered by the horror of another’s greater sin.

That need for vindication, for cleansing, for sanctification, makes us vulnerable.  Manipulated.  We let others think for us, leaving the reaction our only responsibility.

I say that our country is in trouble when we allow those without a moral compass make the decision about what is right and what is wrong, skewing what we believe to whatever is the social hot button of the moment.  Would anyone even be having an issue with Adrian Peterson or any of the other NFL players being named had it not been for the Ray Rice situation?  Probably not.

The NFL is not responsible for making moral judgement, enforcing the law, or for punishing players for conduct in their personal life and not related to what they do as an employee of an NFL franchise.  Adrian Peterson should have been playing football.  So should Ray Rice.  I am not saying this because I think what either has done is right.  I am saying this because they are football players.  If the law decides they should be punished, then the law should punish them.  Let these men do what they were created to do.

Our media has become a kill joy, sucking the life and motivation out of great men and women by looking to expose a sin or a flaw or weakness.  As weakness is exposed and displayed for the whole world to see, we cackle in ecstasy as we kick the great while they are down, tattoo a label on them that all will see forever.  Find that skeleton! is our nation’s cry.

Do I need to give you names?  Think of one word that comes to your mind when the name Lance Armstrong is mentioned.  Got that word?  I bet it was ‘Cheat’.  Pete Rose?  ‘Gambling’.  Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa or even Albert Pujols?  ‘Steroids’.  Bill Clinton?  ‘Philanderer’.

Armstrong was such a fierce competitor that he went beyond himself, expected others to do the same, in the name of winning.

Pete Rose inspired with 110% effort and played baseball with a fire few others will match (pun intended).

Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire possessed a blessed talent and the power they possessed made it impossible to employ standard strategy against their team.

Bill Clinton possesses a unique ability to relate to the common man, perhaps part of what brought him down (I am staunchly Republican, so that was hard for me to say).

I get it that they all also have at least one word in common — deceit.  That is indeed not honorable and we bristled when each of them lied when confronted with their sin.  We all do it, most will defend themselves when confronted, and we know how awful deceit feels on a personal level.  We hate to lie and we hate to be lied to.  It makes us feel better about ourselves when it is someone else.  How horrible! we exclaim, knowing from personal experience that it truly is.

How sad when we choose to celebrate the sin rather than focus on the greatness, accomplishment.  Think now of the confusion and disappointment you may continue to feel over the hype generated around Bill Cosby, the endless dance of the media as they feed on the darkness exposed on his past.  I was born in the 60’s, laughed at the stories on his record albums, entertained by the television shows.  Suddenly I hear people exclaim in dismay as they hear more about what he may have done.  So many people sy they do not need to hear it.  They only want to know this man made them laugh, that laughter now tainted by the sin in his life.  We all sin and we know it, perhaps not to as dark of a degree that has been presented to us, but we sin.  And we want to continue to laugh at this man who so masterfully has given us laughter.  That greatness has now suddenly been diminished.  The media has laid Cosby down before us, invited us to pull on our boots for a swift kick, and we just can’t do it.

We question that anyone who has accomplished greatness has done so with character.  Even those never exposed must have a skeleton.  There are some we accept with their flaws, focus on their greatness.  Martin Luther King is one that comes to mind.  John Kennedy.  Ronald Reagan.  George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth, Eddy Merckx (thanks, Carbon Daddy, for that one), Samuel Clemons.  Thomas Edison.  It is their spirit that stands out.  Their sheer will to succeed is what makes their greatness stand out.

Our nation used to focus on that.  Now we can’t wait to cast that stone.

What can we do?  I wish I had the answer.  Instead I do what also has become easy to do in this culture so permeated by irresponsibility.  Complain.  In this age of the squeaky wheel, I can do that, not caring if I am right or wrong.  I can choose to listen to the sound bites, make my judgements on what little I have heard rather than finding the truth.  I can condemn.

Or I can use the off or mute button now and then..take away the power of those who want to profit from condemnation..  Hell, I may even pray for the pariah as they lay on the ground rather than raise my boot.

Here is a challenge for you.  I will do it even if you won’t.  Sit down and write a list of your deepest and darkest sins.  You know you have them.  You might have to contemplate long and hard in order to dredge up some of the ones you have intentionally suppressed.  Now write out your accomplishments, what you want to remember about yourself, the qualities that you want people to talk about at your funeral and when they remember you.  Which of those lists do you want to keep around?  Which really is the important list?  Now take that first list and draw a line through each and every item.  Get a coffee can, a match, and burn that list to a crisp.

Why would you do that?  Because it is not important that anyone else knows anything on that list.  It is up to you to either forget about that black list or do something about what was on it.  It does not and should not matter to anyone else.  Now think about what would happen if just one item survives the fire and is exposed.  Suddenly, that second list, you accomplishments, won’t matter.

Wow.

Weekend Update

I know it’s Tuesday and weekend updates should occur on Sunday night or Monday morning.  I have excuses.  Legitimate excuses.  (note — I started this blog on Tuesday and am finishing it on Wednesday, which is really really really pitiful)

Sunday night was the Super Bowl.

Yesterday I worked through lunch, left at four thinking I would cook an early dinner and take a little time to write, only to be foiled by a sales rep who called me on my cell three times.  After I finished dinner, a massive headache greeted me with fangs bared.

Excuses are now out of the way.  With a few minutes left to write before hitting the trail for work, I will now dig in to an account of the excellent weekend.  ‘Dig’ is a key word to describe part of the weekend.  For those who know I live in the Chicago area and follow the news, you probably know we had 18 inches of snow on Sunday.  That sounds bad.  In reality, it is not.  Those who live around here know that the solution is to hunker down indoors, keep ahead of the accumulation by clearing the drive and walk periodically throughout the day, and enjoy a pleasant cocoon.

View looking out on my back yard around 2 PM Sunday afternoon.  There was still a lot of snow to fall.

View looking out on my back yard around 2 PM Sunday afternoon. There was still a lot of snow to fall.

Cocoon is what I did from around 2:30 PM to bed time on Sunday.  The couch time was well earned on Sunday morning.  As usual, I awoke a little before sun up.  Sunday was my assigned weekend for parking lot duty at church, usually involving directing traffic and greeting people as they arrive/depart services.  I cleared my own drive and front walk, got to church an hour early to perform my duties — which did not involve traffic control due to the blizzard that was happening.  Instead, I started shoveling and scraping the walks and handicapped parking area right away.  Four hours later I stopped, only taking a fifteen minute break.  I lost count of how many cars I dug out and helped push.  It sounds like work (and it was) but there is something about helping out at church, the many thanks that were sincerely given to me, that somehow creates a pleasant satisfaction.

My body was tired and sore from my shoulders to my feet, but I really liked the way that felt.  I stopped to buy mozzarella cheese sticks, pizza, and pop to enjoy with Nate during the Super Bowl, heated up some enchiladas for lunch when I got home, showered, then plopped on the couch for the duration of the day.  Satisfaction was aided by one of the best championship football games I have witnessed in years.

Alyssa brought her new beau, Caleb, home for the weekend.  Friday afternoon they picked me up at work for the trek to the Allstate Arena in Chicago for Winter Jam, a Christian music festival.  For $10 at the door we were treated to a 10 band, four hour concert.  Alyssa and I are fans of a group called Skillet, the featured band of the night and the last band to perform.  We brought ear plugs to save our ears.  Good, experienced concert goers bring ear plugs.  We weren’t weenies.  We were smart.

Contrary to what one might believe, Christian concerts are not boring.

Contrary to what one might believe, Christian concerts are not boring.

Loved it.  Caleb was excited to go because his favorite band, For King and Country, performed.  He has good taste in music (and he mentioned that he also likes a favorite of mine, Phil Keaggy.  The kid made big points with me.).  They might be my new favorite, definitely the most entertaining of the night.  They resemble Fun… and they were just that.  Every one of the 7 featured bands were good, including Newsong, Family Force Five (white guys rapping and rapping well), Francesca Battestelli, and Jeremy Camp.

The concert was an opportunity to get to know my daughter’s new beau.  We spent three hours waiting in line outside the Allstate arena, a necessity.  A few years ago, we went but were too far back in line to get in before the arena filled to capacity.  My daughter seems to be in love and from what I observed in the boy, I approve.  The kid stayed with us Thursday night until Saturday night.  They left early due to the predicted snow storm.  He slept in Alyssa’s bed.

She wasn’t in her bed.  She slept in our bed with Miriam.

And he slept on top of the covers.  He brought his own blanket.  Caleb also brought his own towel and used it instead of the towels that Mir left out for him.  I guess he is polite.  That was how he treated my daughter and me.  He seemed quiet yet confident, evidenced by the handshake he gave to me when Alyssa introduced us.  It was a bit funny because he made sure he maintained eye contact as he shook my hand.  I think someone told him to do that as it seemed so intentional.

Alyssa and Caleb almost look like brother and sister, something I didn’t think about until I caught a tall slender teenage girl behind me in line for the concert looking a me with a smile.  Alyssa had just taken Caleb to the Target store next to the arena to warm up and buy snacks. The girl blushed at me, smiled again as she said

“It’s real nice of you to come to a concert like this for your kids.”

Ha!  I guess they do have similar features.  Had the girl’s mother not been with her, the comment would have made me feel old.  She also introduced me to her mom, a rather pleasant person who made the wait in line a lot more tolerable.  The cold gave us an excuse to dad/mom dance for our children.  We had to stay warm, after all.

Friday afternoon was sunny but cold.  We're talking mid 20s.  But we had a good time waiting in line for the concert.

Friday afternoon was sunny but cold. We’re talking mid 20s. But we had a good time waiting in line for the concert.

Saturday afternoon I also took Nate out for another driving lesson.  This time I selected a large parking lot at the stadium where a local Class A professional baseball team plays, the Kane County Cougars.  Nate seemed a little hesitant this time, probably due to how our first driving lesson turned out.  There was no driving over a curb this time though.  I went through a thorough review of the purpose of each pedal, gear shift positions, what to do with the clutch while braking.  My son killed the engine a few times, but over all he did very well.  Too well at times.  I taught my daughter to drive also.  Girls do not drive as fast as boys when they are learning to drive.  Nate was digging the speed and handling of my little VW a bit too much!

There is the weekend report.  Three days late isn’t too bad.